MANDATORY PREGNANCY WARNING LABEL DECISION
On Tuesday 30 June, Food Standards Australia – New Zealand (FSANZ) publicly released its report into the review of the mandatory pregnancy warning label presented to the Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation (the Forum) on 31 January 2020. This review was made at the directive of the Ministerial Forum on the basis that the draft warning label presented “an unreasonable cost burden on industry”.
What does the report say?
We encourage you to read the report for yourself, but the key point to note is that FSANZ has proposed two amendments to the design it put to the Ministerial Forum in January.
1) The signal words HEALTH WARNING have been changed to PREGNANCY WARNING, which Australian Grape & Wine believes provides a more targeted and effective approach to raising awareness about drinking during pregnancy, and is therefore a good thing.
2) The transition period for implementation of the pregnancy warning label has been extended from two to three years.
Unfortunately, however, FSANZ has not effectively addressed the Ministerial Forum’s concerns about cost, as the use of three mandated colours (red, black and white) on the bottle/cask label or the outer package (carton) remains a central part of the FSANZ proposal. The amended FSANZ proposal is below:
What is Australian Grape & Wine’s position?
Australian Grape & Wine has consistently supported the introduction of a mandatory pregnancy warning label since the Ministerial Forum first decided to take this approach in October 2018. We remain committed to supporting a mandatory label. However, the draft put to the Ministerial Forum places an unreasonable cost on businesses, particularly small wine businesses, just as they are dealing with the lingering impacts of drought, fire and smoke, and the current crisis of COVID-19.
Given this, Australian Grape & Wine supports a mandatory pregnancy warning label that incorporates all the aspects of the FSANZ proposal, except for the mandatory colour scheme of red, white and black.
A highly visible, high-contrast colour scheme will also serve the purpose of increasing awareness about the dangers of drinking during pregnancy, but at a much lower cost to wine businesses. We firmly believe this is a common-sense, pragmatic option that meets public health objectives while properly considering commercial realities.
What are the next steps?
We understand the Ministerial Forum will consider this issue at their next meeting on 17 July. At this meeting, Ministers will either:
a) Accept the FSANZ proposal
b) Reject the FSANZ proposal
c) Amend the FSANZ proposal.
Australian Grape & Wine believes the proposed label will have a significant and detrimental impact on Australian wine businesses. We are urging the Ministerial Forum to amend the FSANZ proposal, to remove the three mandatory colours, in favour of allowing producers to present the warning label so that it is in contrast with the background of their label. If you are concerned about how this will impact upon your business, the best thing you can do is write to your local Federal, State or Territory Member of Parliament.